Bonsai IS art - Ha!

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is this art

Post  alex e on Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:59 am

After seeing Tony,s picture I,ve changed my mind because it reminded me that
99% of someone,s collection I know ends up the same way lol! lol!

ALEX E

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Bear on Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:13 am

Lee Kennedy wrote:I've often heard of very strange things occuring in the valleys! This has made my mind up that bonsai isnt art,i'll back that up by saying 99% of art is garbage,but 99% of bonsai's are great!(or could be with a little work)
I have to agree with Lee and Bob. Just because someone says its art does not make it so . Brian

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Tony on Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:53 pm

Bear wrote:I have to agree with Lee and Bob. Just because someone says its art does not make it so . Brian
Woooooo Brian you are opening a can of worms here mate. affraid

Take a step back... I have been confronted by 'twigs in pots' and even Old/Mature trees in pots and the 'artist/owner' insists that the image I see before me is indeed a bonsai, Just because someone says its a bonsai does not make it so! No

Here is the only image I can find of the whole 'wrapped bonsai"


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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Jim Doiron on Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:04 pm

I think the photo that Tony posted of the entire tree shows the truth of the matter. Here we have an artist that has created pieces in the landscape to great effect and recognition. By the way, her practice has roots in Japanese horticultural practice of wrapping hessian bandages around tree trunks to protect them from frost as well as the practice of wrapping ribbons and rope around sacred trees in China, Japan, India, so her aesthetic heritage is not too far from ours. So she realizes there is a way for her to take this to a smaller scale that also has a long and deep history. I think it is very likely that she assumed she could just appropriate this art form which she may not have recognized as such, just as some here do not recognize what she does as art. I would say, to the average viewer, bonsai is nothing more than tree torture or advanced house planting. It isn't until you realize the culture around it and the work it takes to achieve it that the true "art" of it is recognized. So, I go back to my earlier statement that the artist should have looked into it a little more but as far as she knew she just had a bonsai just like people who slowly kill junipers bought in malls have a bonsai.

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Bonsai is Art- HA

Post  Guest on Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:51 pm

As one of the really old timers on this forum, probably along with Jim Lewis I can claim senior status, I am loving this semi-annual exchange on bonsai as art.
Nothing is ever resolved, but the exchange is fascinating.
I would like to analyze two quotes: "Just because someone says its art does not make it so." and "Just because someone says its a bonsai does not make it so!"
Let's accpet these statements on face value.
So WHO will decide what is art, WHO will decide what is a bonsai?
Are we going to endow or delegate some priviliged individuals with that task? Moderators or censors? Or are we have a committee to decide it? Are we going to award degrees or design tests? Universities already award BA in Art degrees.
Or are we going to say "I know art when I see it!" and by extension "I know bonsai when I see one!"
An alternative is to quit criticizing taste and keep doing our best to create art and bonsai. Let judges in contests decide what their preference is at the moment, but let's have the freedom to disagree with their taste regarding the "best." However, let's not argue beyond that and say it is not art or bonsai.
Creativity is always controversial as it must include familiar components as well as new ideas. Who will decide what is the right balance between these components?
As a VERY untalented would be artist in several media, I enjoy brush painting, raising bonsai, collecting viewing stones for my own pleasure. Critics be damned, as long as I enjoy it for my OWN pleasure! Sometime I even enter my works in an exhibit. If accepted, fine, and if rejected, fine. The judge's opinion is just that, an opinion. Far removed from objective reality.
In closing, is their an "objective reality"? According to Zen, another subject many of our esteemed contributors seems to quote, there is none!

Well, back to helping my wife repot the conifers!

Cheers from sunny South Texas.

Peter

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Tony on Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:45 pm

Peter, thanks for your Erudite and well meaning post. I too am a member of long standing having 'graduated' thru various incarnations of IBC all the way back to Garden web... and indeed this 'is it art' posts raises its head at least once a year. I am at a loss as to why folk criticize other ‘art’ whist wondering why bonsai is not taken seriously as an ‘art form’

Is bonsai art? I would like to think so. I would also like to think that those who post erroneous comments on IBC take a long hard look in there back yards before casting the first stone. Embarassed

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Bear on Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:56 pm

[quote="Tony"]
Bear wrote:I have to agree with Lee and Bob. Just because someone says its art does not make it so . Brian
Woooooo Brian you are opening a can of worms here mate. affraid

Take a step back... I have been confronted by 'twigs in pots' and even Old/Mature trees in pots and the 'artist/owner' insists that the image I see before me is indeed a bonsai, Just because someone says its a bonsai does not make it so! No Tomy i agree but if i opened a can of worms and displayed them would the be art

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Cool Brian

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Yes evolving art

Post  jamesransom on Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:02 pm

I think Tony is spot on saying "Is bonsai art? I would like to think so. I would also like to think that those who post erroneous comments on IBC take a long hard look in there back yards before casting the first stone".

I also belive in an art should move forward and not get stuck in a close set of rules (with in reason) like the lady has done with this bonsai. Try something new, do one thing different and see what the reaction is it may work, some people may like it or not.

The fun of it all Very Happy
James

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Will Heath on Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:58 pm

paradi wrote:
So WHO will decide what is art, WHO will decide what is a bonsai?
Are we going to endow or delegate some priviliged individuals with that task? Moderators or censors? Or are we have a committee to decide it? Are we going to award degrees or design tests? Universities already award BA in Art degrees.
Or are we going to say "I know art when I see it!" and by extension "I know bonsai when I see one!"
As much as many do not what to hear the truth, I will state it again anyhow. What is or isn't art is decided by those who make such decisions, call them the powers that be, the critics, the journalists, the curators, the gallery owners.....whatever you call them, they decide what is or isn't art. Period.

You may not like this, you may fight against it, you may pull out your hair, gnash your teeth, tear at your clothing, but in the end, this is the truth, it always has been, it always will be.

I have heard the cries that art is in the eyes of the beholder, that it is a personal thing, that one mans art may be another man's garbage, but these dogs don't hunt. One man's opinion means nothing in the world of art, who cares if Phillip the farmer or Joe the plumber doesn't think the Picasso piece shown here is not art? Do you think they will take it down and hide it in shame because of a commoners opinion? Do you think the value will drop because Mary the quilter doesn't get it?

Those that are in the position to decide what is relevant, what is important, what expresses the soul, are the ones who can promote the work and raise it to the level of art.

More important than these people are the big named artists, the great living artists of our time can dictate what direction art follows with there own creations.

Don't like it? So what, that is just the way it is. The common man has no say in the matter.

Awhile back I asked a renowned New York art critic if bonsai was art, linking him to the AoB galleries of Pall, Lenz, Zaoh, and others. Keep in mind that this guy had no past experience with bonsai, but has critiques and wrote about art over the last decade and is well versed in art and art history. Here is what he said....

It is certainly art, clearly one could argue a form of organic sculpture, where the artist shapes and forms a living entity into a particular presentation.

The postmodernists, in their zeal to make everything into art, curiously have a high degree of disdain for a lot of the established forms of art -- such... possibly as this one; tradition is not their forte.

And yet, say a big name in the art world, such as Damien Hirst, suddenly decided that he'd wanted to do a project and exhibition of bonsai sculptures... then suddenly it would be given the artsworld mafia seal of approval and it would become "high art" in an ironic sense.

Hope this helps...

Lenny Campello




So, to make a point, if a major art critic says it is art, if the top bonsaists of our time says its art, if museums are displaying it as art, if it is promoted as art, and if it is accepted as art, then bonsai is an art.

Disagreeing does not change it. Not accepting who decides such things does not change it. Just accept it and move forward.


Will

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Lee Kennedy on Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:14 pm

whether it is art,or indeed whether it isn't is of no consequence to me,i have stood in front of the same painting as tony and gained very little pleasure from it,but it is still art.
is clock making a art?
is topiary art?
is pickling a shark art?
is writing the names of all your lovers on a tent art?
is having a dirty unmade bed art?
is the haywain by constable art?
is George stubbs the anatomy of the horse art?
Only what you believe to be good/lack of taste defines what many of us believe to be art,but does it even matter anyway?

the best definition of art i have heard is that it's something with no use or function other than to be viewed,but is a very fine bonsai pot not art?
personally i couldn't give a 4xxxx

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Bonsai Is art -HA

Post  Guest on Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:50 pm

Interesting posts.
I agree to a large extent wuth what Will said: The "powers to be decide," that is in fact what happens. It does not make it objective truth, but that's life.
Another way of stating the same thing is a quote from a well known potter: "Objects that labeled ART AND SELL, are art!"
We all heard "proof is in the pudding" or is it "proof is in $" ?

Attention, generalization coming!!!
In the US we debate whether bonsai is art or not, while bonsai prices are such that fewer than a dozen people can make a living of it.
In Japan the question seemingly never comes up, yet there is a thriving bonsai industry.
Hmmmmmmm!

Cheers.

Peter

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Cash for art

Post  jamesransom on Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:41 pm

paradi wrote:Interesting posts.

Attention, generalization coming!!!
In the US we debate whether bonsai is art or not, while bonsai prices are such that fewer than a dozen people can make a living of it.
In Japan the question seemingly never comes up, yet there is a thriving bonsai industry.
Hmmmmmmm!

Maybe because we are trying to be fussy over the "art" side of it (which i agree it is) but in Japan it an "art" and a big industry and they see selling it to us as "art" (rather than just saying its a basic skill in horticulture keeping a plant alive in a pot and shaping it) is big busienss. Like garden centres in the uk (yes i run one as my job) and you sell the (art of gardining) plants design ect to the punter is our big business.

James

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bonsai is art

Post  alex e on Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:42 am

Art as defined in the english dictionary; "The products of human creativity"
" The creation of beautiful or significant things"
This one I love Smile "Architecture is the art of wasting space beautifully"

Perhaps Toni,s backyard IS a work of art! blahblahblahblahblah who cares ? life is too short,enjoy what you do & do what you enjoy [profound eh!! Laughing ],NOW CAN SOMEONE
PLEASE POST PHOTO,S OF BONSAI AS WE KNOW IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

: cheers Alex e

quote; "Forget elitism and concentrate on perfection"

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Tony on Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:23 pm

alex e wrote:Perhaps Toni,s backyard IS a work of art! blahblahblahblahblah who cares ?

: cheers Alex e

quote; "Forget elitism and concentrate on perfection"

Alex, I will try and rise above your comment as my objective was to make a particular point. silent

I am sure that better folk than I are reading this post and choosing NOT to comment for fear of offending, I am glad that you are not one of them... informed debate long may it continue cheers

I would like to think that indeed some of the stuff in my back yard are bonsai, just as you would. As for getting back to bonsai... there are plenty other posts on this forum... members can choose what they read... it is worth noting that THIS thread has had more comments posted than any other on the new forum, so somebody is interested bounce

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Will Heath on Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:12 pm

Lee Kennedy wrote:whether it is art,or indeed whether it isn't is of no consequence to me....
personally i couldn't give a 4xxxx

alex e wrote:who cares ? life is too short,enjoy what you do & do what you enjoy

But some of us do care, some of us enjoy these deeper conversations, could you give us the courtesy of allowing us to engage in them? You are, after all, free not to engage in them.



Will

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Paul Landis on Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:58 pm

What is it about discussions of aesthetic values that riles up the Bonsai community so much???

It is an absolutely essential discussion to have and completely appropriate.

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bonsai is art

Post  alex e on Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:00 pm

Woe!!!!!!!!! calm yourself Tony Mad its not meant to cause offence
its a debate remember,my comments were a generalisation, remember
Ive seen your trees and your raft hawthorn is a fine tree indeed ,my
point being I WOULD !! rather see that than the inane drivel of bonsai
enthusiasts having to constantly justify what it is and why we do it.
If anyone else feels I have caused offence then I apologise, failing that
can I recommend a large glass of prune juice twice a day .
lol! lol! lol! .

best regards Alex e

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Paul Landis on Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:09 pm

Alex--Tony and Will were saying that when we try to have this discussion----invariably folks jump in and say they dont care and why dont we concentrate on pics of Bonsai.

I think Tony was clear that he welcomed your comments---but when this dicussion comes up---I think people are tired of being chastised just for having the discussion.

This discussion is absolutely neccessary for Bonsai to move forward. How can our values about what constitutes Bonsai evolve without discussion???

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Jim Doiron on Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:17 pm

All art is the attempt of each individual to try and express their individual experience or understanding of it. It is, first and foremost, a conversation we have with ourselves but we do it in the hopes that it will be overheard and on some level connect with others and be recognized as a new/different/unique take on the world. It is up the the artist and the viewer, individually, to determine the degree of that expression. For some a Rothko is a pretty painting for others it is a revelation. This is why art is art, if the artist creates one revelation or a thousand "that's nice" responses is it really the same thing. I would like to think we all have a large group of "that's nice" trees and maybe a revelation or two as well if we work at it long enough. I will say for my part that 8 years "playing" bonsai has not yet proved fruitful in the latter case but I but am no less willing to keep talking to myself.

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Lee Kennedy on Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:40 pm

Will Heath wrote:
Lee Kennedy wrote:whether it is art,or indeed whether it isn't is of no consequence to me....
personally i couldn't give a 4xxxx


But some of us do care, some of us enjoy these deeper conversations, could you give us the courtesy of allowing us to engage in them? You are, after all, free not to engage in them.



Will
The real problem is Will,you seem to spend more time performing the art of bonsai in the virtual world than in the real world,i let my tree's do the talking as do many other's,by using my hands wire and tools.We can pontificate till we are blue in the face,This is not the way to become a bonsai "artiste" any more than it is the way to become a trapeze "artiste"

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bonsai is art

Post  alex e on Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:41 pm

Hi Will & Paul,

I appreciate both your comments, the fact that this thread has caused so much
debate is self evident, I have been hearing this debate in one form or another
since starting bonsai 1990 and hand on heart I fail to see how it has progressed
the ART, AGAIN!! this thread bears testimony , I doubt the Japanese have sat
for nearly 20yrs debating if bonsai is an art or what! No
I reckon Lee summed it up , on that note enough said Very Happy

regards Alex e

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Paul Landis on Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:43 pm

I have to say that I see no pontificating from Will here. This discussion is about the aesthetic values of Bonsai--not the practical applications of technique.

Each subject is valid and each needs to be discussed.

Again I ask--why is it that people get so worked up about aesthetic discussions???

If you find no value or interest in that part of Bonsai---why question the motives of those who do??

I love the practical technique and horticultural side of Bonsai.

I also love the aesthetic side of it as well.

Is it because people find these discussions elitist??? A bit unfair I think.

Paul Landis
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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  prestontolbert on Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:11 pm

"The real problem is Will,you seem to spend more time performing the art of bonsai in the virtual world than in the real world,i let my tree's do the talking as do many other's,by using my hands wire and tools.We can pontificate till we are blue in the face,This is not the way to become a bonsai "artiste" any more than it is the way to become a trapeze "artiste"."-Lee

It sounds to me that you think of yourself as no more than a tree trimmer or a woodcutter. Or am I wrong? Do you not have a philosophy that steers your decision making with your trees? If you have a philosophy and reason behind what you do with your tools and wire, other than to make trees small, then discussion and critical analysis is relevant. That is one of the differences between art and not art. Art can and should be critiqued and analyzed.

I noticed that in the display of the Welsh artist's "bonsai", she left the specimen tag in the pot. Also the tree was under glass. She wasn't obeying normal rules to which we adhere. It looks as if she bought the tree in a mall, took it home, wrapped it, and entered it in the contest. She seemed to be trying to find a way to show her site-specific work in a gallery setting. Mall-sai was her easy way out.

Also, Lee, please leave the petty low-blows at the playground.("Will,you seem to spend more time performing the art of bonsai in the virtual world than in the real world"-Lee)
-Preston

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Will Heath on Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:54 pm

Lee Kennedy wrote:
The real problem is Will,you seem to spend more time performing the art of bonsai in the virtual world than in the real world,i let my tree's do the talking as do many other's,by using my hands wire and tools.We can pontificate till we are blue in the face,This is not the way to become a bonsai "artiste" any more than it is the way to become a trapeze "artiste"

Your logic is based on a falsehood. I not only practice the art of bonsai, I teach classes on it at a community college, I give demos and workshops at shows, I also write about it. I currently have articles in 18 print publications, in multiple languages, and I have just finished editing Robert Steven's new book. My own creations have won ribbons at local shows, and I have posted many of my own trees on this and other forums.

How's that for real world?

All that aside, my personal collection of bonsai have absolutely nothing to do with the discussion at hand, any more than your collection does. I don't have to be a drunk driver to tell you that drinking and driving is a bad idea.

What you have done here is attack me. Could you discuss the actual subject matter here and not me please?


Will

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

Post  Will Heath on Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:17 am

I have to admit that seeing the entire "bonsai" wrapped in thread is more interesting than the portion orginally shown.


Will

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Re: Bonsai IS art - Ha!

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